Saving turtle eggs from Alberto

Turtle Alberto
Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox rescues loggerhead turtle eggs from an incoming tide pushed higher than normal by Subtropical Storm Alberto. - AMITW | Submitted

Subtropical Storm Alberto kicked off the hurricane season a few days early, sending Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring Director Suzi Fox and Manatee County lifeguards scrambling to rescue turtle eggs that high tides were about to wash out to sea.

Nests in danger of being submerged by high tides were relocated at Manatee Beach and Cedar Cove, Fox said. Some eggs found in sand dunes also were reburied.

Turtle eggs in nests inundated by water eventually drown.

Turtle Watch volunteers spent Memorial Day locating new nests and logging nests that were washed over by high tides. Fox told volunteers to “Cross your flippers” that the high tide expected around 10 p.m. Monday did not harm any more nests.

“This isn’t a sad event, this is a natural event,” Fox said, adding that sea turtles have the rest of the six-month nesting season to make up for the storm in May, turtle season’s first month.

Alberto is the first storm of the 2018 hurricane season, which does not officially begin until June 1.

Monday morning, as volunteers were still on the beach tracking turtles that nested Sunday night, at least 16 nesting attempts had been documented, Fox said.

Bad weather tends to prompt sea turtles to nest ahead of the storm.

“What we’re going to see next is the girls will nest higher because the shoreline is very damp right now,” she said.

Beachgoers who find storm-tossed turtle nest stakes and tape can call Fox at 941-778-5638, or throw away the tape and leave the stakes at the nearest dune line, where volunteers will find them the next morning, she requested.

In other turtle news, a Kemps-Ridley sea turtle recently washed up dead in Cortez, an unusual occurrence, as the species makes the waters of Texas their home, Fox said. The turtle will be necropsied at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota.